With a varied background — from finance to teaching to research to leadership development — Laura Quinn has both the broad perspective and the hands-on experience that make her well-suited for her current role: CCL’s global markets design and delivery manager.
In her role, she works with clients and CCL faculty in the process of developing proposals and designs for leadership programs and initiatives. She also has the challenging task of overseeing how faculty — both on-staff and adjunct — are assigned and resourced to best meet the needs of all clients.
What do you think is interesting or valuable for clients to know about CCL’s approach to designing leadership development programs or initiatives?
LQ: First, we approach clients with the mindset of linking leadership development to their business strategy and business challenges. We try to meet clients where they are right now, but also anticipate their future needs or things they aren’t considering.
In terms of design process, we use the 4MAT model. 4MAT gives us the philosophy and principles that create a real solid foundation for our design work. If you don’t know that model, it’s an instructional design process based on research about how people learn. It addresses four things: Why? What? How? and What if?
Why is leadership development important to me personally and why is it important to the organization? What are the core frameworks and content that is relevant? How is the delivery process; for CCL it’s rooted in experiential learning. What if is about the ongoing application and practice. Development is not a one-week or one-time event, so how do we help leaders and organizations integrate new learning?
What themes or needs are showing up these days with clients?
LQ: One thing — that is both a push from our side and the client’s push for results — is that we are much more focused on the client’s specific leadership challenges. At the individual level, we are more direct, more bold, in terms of defining those challenges and asking, what are you going to do about that challenge? how are you going to improve results with your leadership?
At the organizational level, we are going deeper into the leadership needs and leadership strategy. We’ve gone so much farther than just talking about competencies. In fact, that almost feels immature now. We delve into business strategy and ask about the company’s biggest challenges; what’s going on in the business, the industry, the markets; what’s happening with competitors; and so on. How is that context impacting leadership in the organization?
Clients are also asking for help in how to lead innovation and lead strategy. And boundary spanning. Our clients don’t yet use that terminology, but they know they need to collaborate at a deeper level.
You began your career in finance. How did you end up in leadership development?
LQ: I was a finance person and held various management positions in high-tech. I knew the importance of numbers, but I saw how much the people side impacted those numbers. That’s the short version of why I went back to grad school and got a Ph.D. in organizational communication.
I was a professor in the department of communications at the University of Colorado for a time before joining CCL. Here, I’ve trained and managed various open-enrollment programs. I’ve been able to research, write and present about corporate sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line. I’m still interested in sustainability, but my perspective is more inside-out. For instance, I became a Yoga teacher because I think all of sustainability starts with you being more aware of your own life.
In recent years, I’ve been doing mostly organizational leadership work — how leadership is developed at the cultural and organizational level and building CCL’s capacity for that work.
What do you like most about your current role?
LQ: I love dealing with the CCL faculty and working with them as they interact with the clients. Each one of them is passionate about doing great work and they are so good at creating solutions for client challenges. The emphasis I’ve put on this job is to create a learning community — there is so much to be learned from our internal faculty and our adjunct faculty. The joy they get from sharing with each other has been really fun to watch and be a part of.